'Hell's Kitchen' Season 8: Head 'em Off at the Pass
'Hell's Kitchen' Season 8: Head 'em Off at the Pass
Tonight on Hell's Kitchen, the final four got to show they have what it takes to run a restaurant as each of them got a turn at the pass. Unlike past seasons, this experiment ran rather smoothly, probably because all of the remaining contestants have a positive attitude ... with the exception of one. 
Thanks to a great dinner service, all four chefs lived to cook another day but the good news was short lived when they realized that two of them would be cut after the next service. But first things first, the chefs were given what might have been their most difficult challenge to date. Each of them had to prepare a fusion dish that melded together ingredients from two countries. Not so bad if you get to choose, but the countries were assigned at random when the chefs drew flags from under a dinner dome.

Nona lucked out with Greek and Italian, an easy combo. Russell drew France and India which wasn't too hard. Trev pulled Mexico and China which felt impossible and Jillian was stuck with Thailand and Spain. As far as ingredients go, Thailand has the most exotic range and that left poor Jillian struggling just to find something she recognized.

Now here's where I say, I'd like to play poker with the editors of Hell's Kitchen because they are so bad about telegraphing the outcome,it's ridiculous. Throughout the challenge, voice over guy kept saying how much trouble Jillian was having. Cut to her saying how badly she's doing. Cut to the others saying how confident they are in their dish. Russell is trained in French cuisine, so he's not going to lose! Guess who won? Jillian, of course. Then she got to cheer in that little girly voice of hers. Yikes. She may be a great chef but it's hard to take her seriously.

Jillian's prize was lunch at Spago's with her family while Nona, Russell and Trev had to pack up the beds in the dorm and prep. Trev did nothing but whine the whole time while the other two took it in stride.

When it came time for service, Russell was first up at the pass. He started out assertive but calm and easily caught it when Chef Scott tried to trip him up with pecans instead of walnuts in the salad. As the pace picked up, he went after Trev for raw scallops (a Ramsay favorite) then started a fight in the kitchen when he told Jillian to help Trev. In his favor, though, he stopped the fight and got the kitchen under control. Good job, Russell.

Nona got off to a shaky start when she had to call the tickets but she got into a rhythm. The sabotage this time was celery root mash instead of potato and she missed it completely. When called on it, she stuck to her guns saying, sorry, but it tastes like potato. A much harder thing to catch than the wrong nuts. Still, overall, she does a good job.

When Trev hit the pass, the chefs ignored him which didn't really hurt him so much as it reflected badly on them. He continued with too much attitude but did catch it when Scott sent him the wrong fish. Not bad.

Jillian was the last to take the pass and it was tough because she just doesn't have the presence. She had to shout to be half as loud as the other chefs and that childish voice of hers doesn't carry an authority. To make up for it, she tried to act bossy and then missed it when Scott delivered the wrong kind of beef (another tough one to spot). Then she and Trev went at it when he sent her one bad piece of fish after another.

That was when Ramsay got involved. He went after Trev, accusing him of purposely screwing with Jillian and it was one of the more startling moments of the season. Maybe it's because things were going so well, or because it was so counter to Jillian's small voice, but when he called Trev over, even I had to gulp!

With service done, the chefs retired to the dorm to discuss who should go home, a moot point since it was totally up to Ramsay. When they returned to the dining room, Ramsay wasted no time in cutting Trev from the pack. It's a shame, because he had real potential, but his poor attitude did him in.

Two banners dropped from the ceiling nearly scaring Nona to death and Russell's face appeared on one of them. An easy call. He's been a shoe-in from the start. The tough call was the second finalist. It was Nona. Ramsay softened the blow by telling Jillian she could keep her jacket on - his way of saying, you done good, girl.

And so there you have it. Russell and Nona. But the worst is yet to come. In next week's finale, they'll each have to run one side of the kitchen with a staff that includes Trev, Boris and Vinnie. It's going to be a bumpy night!

Did the right two people make it into the finale? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


(Image courtesy of Patrick Wymore/FOX)

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